ACTORS UNIONS ACT UP

Relations between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists turned increasingly frosty Tuesday when AFTRA President Robert Reardon dispatched a letter to SAG President Alan Rosenberg demanding to know by next Monday whether SAG will agreed to participate in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by the end of the month. Reardon made it clear that AFTRA will do so with or without SAG negotiators in the room. Meanwhile, following a report that some independent producers were unable to get completion bonds because of insurers' fears of a strike, SAG said it would offer contracts to some indie producers guaranteeing that actors would continue working on their films even if a strike is called following the expiration of the actors' contract on June 30. The guarantee would apply only to films that are not financed or distributed by a company represented by the AMPTP.

PELLICANO TRIAL BEGINS

Jury selection was expected to begin today (Wednesday) in the trial of former "private eye to the stars" Anthony Pellicano on racketeering charges. While numerous Hollywood figures have been alerted that they may be called to testify in the trial, it was still not known who the actual witnesses will be. Reporting on the upcoming trial, the New York Times commented today, "While Mr. Pellicano has consistently vowed to refuse any deals and take his secrets to his grave, there remains a school of thought that he could drop the bravado if faced with a lengthy sentence and could cooperate in exchange for leniency. A more popular line of thinking, however, is that Mr. Pellicano -- always the grandstander -- is hankering for his moment in the sun."

KIOSKS TO PROVIDE MOVIES VIA INSTANT DOWNLOADS

The victory of the Blu-ray high definition format may be shortlived if a Vancouver, BC-based company has anything to say about the matter. Internet Media Technologies has announced that it plans to install 1,000 satellite-linked kiosks in September at which consumers will be able to connect flash drives or MP3 devices and quickly download any of 3,000-5,000 movies to rent. Users will also be able to download music and TV shows instantaneously. "DVDs and CDs are going the way of Beta and VHS tapes," company CEO Romeo Prescott told Home Media magazine.

U.K. TO GIVE BLU-RAY A BIG BOOST

According to a new survey, 24 percent of residents of the U.K. say they will watch movies and TV shows distributed on Blu-ray discs over the next six months. By comparison 7 percent said that they would watch such programs downloaded or streamed over the Internet (2 percent said they would watch pirated versions). Of 1,608 adults surveyed, nearly 40 percent said that they currently own or have access to a high-definition TV set.

FILM COMPOSER LEONARD ROSENMAN DEAD AT 83

Leonard Rosenman, one of Hollywood's most prolific film and TV composers, who won Oscars for Barry Lyndon and Bound for Glory, died Tuesday in Woodland Hills, CA at age 83. Beginning in 1955 with the James Dean film East of Eden, Rosenman scored nearly 50 feature films and wrote the theme music and/or background scores for countless TV series. His list of credits on the IMDb website includes 100 movies and TV series.

FRENCH COMEDY SETS BOX-OFFICE RECORD

Some 4.4 million French moviegoers paid $39.7 million to watch the comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the land of the Ch'tis) during its first week in theaters, setting a record, its distributor Pathé said Tuesday. The previous record was held by the 2006 comedy Les Bronzes 3: Amis pour la vie, which took in $27.8 million in its first week. Reporting on the results, the French news agency Agence France Press observed that the film "looks set to be the movie of the year" in France. It cost $18 million to produce. By Tuesday, the wire service observed, the film's total box office had already exceeded that for Asterix at the Olympic Games, which debuted in January -- France's most expensive film ever.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.